Verona Environmental Commission Meetings
Our monthly public meetings are generally held on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at 7 pm in the Conference Room of the Community Center, 880 Bloomfield Ave. in Verona. The public is welcome to attend. Feel free to contact the Commission at VEC@Veronanj.org or by mail to Verona Town Hall, c/o Environmental Commission, 600 Bloomfield Ave., Verona, NJ 07044.
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Green News
Walk and Bike to School!
The Verona Environmental Commission celebrated Walk and Bike to School Day with the 
10th Annual Poster Contest 
on October 10, 2018. The poster contest is a way to get students thinking about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and making changes that benefit the environment. The contest is open to Verona Public School Students Grade K through 12. Artwork was displayed at all participating schools. 
Students from Verona’s six public schools won the contest and were honored at the Town Council meeting. 
The winners received $50 dollars and an Award Certificate from the Mayor. The 2018 winners are: "Walking to School Makes you Rule!" by Dante Palmer, from F. N. Brown School, 4th Grade. "Be Kind to the Earth. Walk or Ride Bikes to School!" by Nick Nazzaretto, from Laning Avenue School, 4th Grade. "Walk or Ride 2 School", by Karina Squilanti, from Verona High School, 10th Grade."Walk or Bike, so your parents can sleep late! " by Ivy Liaukus, from H. B. Whitehorne Middle School, 5th Grade."Verona is a clean and healthy town" by Zoe Flores, from Forest Avenue School, 2nd Grade. 
People walking by Emily Ten Broeck, from Brookdale Avenue School, Kindergarten. 
Travelling by car is the largest single source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Verona leading to Climate Change and affecting our air quality
. As many children are driven to and from school, physical inactivity is becoming a serious concern. In addition communities with higher rates of walking and bicycling tend to have safer streets with lower crash rates for all travel modes. Walk or bike to school more often!

Verona Green Fair & Open Streets
The 4th Annual Verona Green Fair was held on Saturday, October 13, at the Verona Civic Center, 600 Bloomfield Ave. Organizers asked people to ride their bike to the Green Fair. Gould Street was closed to motor vehicles and open for riding, helmet and bike check, and other free activities. The Environmental Commission distributed reusable grocery bags & reusable water bottles to help you reduce plastic waste. Over 50 different vendors, family & kids activities, food and live music! The event was free and open to the public.

West Essex Rail Trail Cleanup
We teamed up with Sustainable Verona and Montclair State University to clean up the West Essex Trail on September 8, and honor the victims and first responders of the September 11 tragedy. We had a great turnout, Montclair State University sent a bus with 30 students volunteers, and about 30 more volunteers came from Verona. The group met in the parking lot of the Verona High School and walked to the trail entrance in Fairview Avenue. Volunteers removed car tires, metal fencing and pipes, wooden pallets, metal drums, cardboard, bottles, cans, broken glass, old garden hoses, broken shovels, Styrofoam, carpets, lawn mower pieces, an old street sign and post, and even a metal file cabinet from the woods adjoining the trail. We made piles of trash at several intersections and Verona DPW picked up the collected materials. Thank you all!
September 11 National Service Day logo.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure 
What is Green Stormwater Infrastructure and how does it work? Green infrastructure offers a multitude of benefits that we can apply towards climate adaptation and disaster mitigation goals. Read the NJ Green Infrastructure Guide HERE

Commission Members Needed
The Verona Environmental Commission (VEC) is seeking volunteers to serve on the Commission. The VEC was established in 1992 for the protection, development or use of natural resources, including water resources, within the territorial limits of the township. The Commission is authorized to have seven Members (one of whom is also a member of the Planning Board), plus two Alternates. All members are Verona residents and serve without compensation. The Commission also has a Council Liaison, Mayor Kevin Ryan. The VEC meets monthly in the Conference Room of the Verona Community Center, 880 Bloomfield Avenue, on the second Wednesday of each month at 7:00 PM. Anyone interested in serving on the VEC can apply by submitting a form available HERE - For further information interested parties can contact Commission at VEC@Veronanj.org.

Peckman Cleanup
Our June 2nd Peckman cleanup went well. We celebrated the 50th Anniversary of National Trails Day by cleaning up the Peckman River and the adjacent woods and trails. With help from our volunteers and the Verona Kids Rock group we planted 50 Asclepias Syriaca (aka Milkweed) in the F.N. Brown School Butterfly Garden, as well as behind the school! The plants were donated by the Association of NJ Environmental Commissions and Pinelands Nursery, to support the New Jersey Milkweed for Monarchs program. The goal is to provide more pollinator habitat to increase their survival on its migration. We also spotted ducks, deer, some fish, and a water snake during the event. Thank you all!

VEC Videos
We made several videos about the Poster Contest, Grove Park, the Green Fair, the Peckman Trail and much more! You can watch them all HERE

Free Trees On Earth Day
We celebrated Earth Day with a Tree Giveaway and cleanup on April 21. The event took place at Grove Park, 42 Grove Avenue in Verona. The tree seedlings were greenhouse grown by the State Forest Service and came in 8" recyclable tubes. We distributed 300 native trees such as Eastern Redbud , Swamp White Oak, and Eastern White Pine. Seedlings planted today will create forest for our future! 

Verona Park Cleanup
The Environmental Commission joined the Verona Park Conservancy on April 14 to clean up Verona Park, including the lake! Once an old swamp, the lake was first formed in 1814 when Doctor Gone (or Bohn) dammed the Peckman River for a grist mill. It is always a pleasure to collaborate with the VPC, we got a lot done together with support from Essex County Parks and the Township of Verona Department of Public Works.
About 50 volunteers met near the Boathouse and worked all morning long removing debris from the park and lake. The organizers provided working gloves, trash and recycling bags, long handled nets and a rowboat. A big thank you to all our volunteers!

Stormwater Review
Verona Environmental Commission Member Sean DiBartolo (Professional Engineer, LEED AP) participated in the Webinar “Asking the Right Questions in Stormwater Review” presented by the Association of NJ Environmental Commissions. Later on Sean gave a public presentation on the topic at the Verona Planning Board Meeting on February 22 . The presentation is available HERE

Take the Pledge
Please visit our Clean-Air webpage to Pledge to End Unnecessary Vehicle Idling in Verona. Do your part to keep kids healthy and Verona's air clean. Thank you!

Verona Impervious Area: Read HERE the Impervious Cover Assessment Prepared for Verona Township by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program. Based on the study, in July 2017 the VEC formally recommended Verona Township to implement green infrastructure and reduce impervious area in the township at least a 10 percent; in order to repair our waterways, reduce flooding, and minimize erosion. You can read our full letter HERE.
Position Paper: The VEC held a special meeting on September 14th to talk about the construction at Verona Park, and our members approved this Position Paperasking the County to reduce impervious area wherever possible, and to consider using Green Infrastructure such as Permeable Pavement, instead of impervious materials. We met with the County Executive on September 20 and presented our recommendations.

Verona and Climate Change
The VEC petitioned the governing body of the Township of Verona to implement measures in order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at a rate of at least 3.6% a year. Learn why and how HERE. 

Grove Park Cleanup
On October 14 we hosted a cleanup  at Grove Park, Verona’s Historic Park & Nature Preserve located at 42 Grove Avenue. Volunteers did trail maintenance, cleaned up the woods and planted an Eastern Redbud tree where the old trail entrance used to be. Verona Kids Rock group helped during the cleanup and donated $25. We would like to thank all our volunteers! 

Grove Park - 42 Grove Avenue
The VEC, Junior Woman’s Club of Verona and Verona Historical Society joined forces to create a nature preserve and historic park on the site of a 19th century community 
gathering place. This was later the homestead of Dr. Henry B. Whitehorne, the namesake of Verona's middle school. The woods at 42 Grove are now home to many kinds of wildlife, including a family of foxes and wild turkeys. Vegetation includes a huge patch of skunk cabbage and jack-in-the-pulpits, native sycamore, black cherry, hickory, tulip poplar and red maple trees. The park's ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on November 21, 2015. You can watch the video here. The wooded lot was restored and a short, sustainable nature trail was created, park benches and signage with information about the history of the site were added.
Trees and plants will be added during the Spring of 2016. Open space provides many benefits to the community. In  rapidly growing urban areas, any preserved land can offer relief from congestion. In the early 1800s this lot was the site of Personett’s Grove, a favorite meeting place for picnics, religious meetings and Fourth of July celebrations. Later Dr. Whitehorne built his home on the site. Whitehorne's home was destroyed by fire in the 1960s. The Weathon family owned the property until 1966. The township bought the 1.33 acre lot in 1975. The property has a significant historical value. Grove Ave. got its name from Personett's Grove. We appreciate the town's commitment to this preservation effort.
Verona Township encourages all residents to plant native trees, and reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost as much of their household waste as possible. 
2018 Garbage & Recycling Collection Calendar:
Download the Full Calendar Here -The Recycling Center (10 Commerce Ct.) is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Our Minutes and our Annual Report for 2016 and 2017 are available here. Join us in protecting the environment for the health and well being of all! 
Low Impact Checklist: You can download HERE the VEC Low Impact “Green” Checklist for construction and planning.  This suggested list has been compiled by the VEC based on best available practices.
Verona and Zika: Please read HERE the VEC statement about Zika Virus. 
Verona e-code: The Township of Verona Code is available on-line HERE. At Verona Environmental Commission encouragement, Verona Township adopted a Steep Slope Ordinance in 2016 and a strong Anti Idling Resolution in 2015.
Remyndr Download the free app on iTunes -enter your address to receive notifications about your recycling and garbage curbside collection schedule.
Climate Change
The Verona Environmental Commission released a statement in support of the Essex County Board of Freeholders' Climate Change Resolution. The Commission is showing support for the goals of the County in which the Township sits and plans to help the County meet those goals. The Freeholders Resolution "In Support of the State of New Jersey Taking Action on Climate Change" was passed unanimously by the Freeholders. 
Steep Slope Ordinance: At VEC encouragement, Verona Township adopted a Steep Slope Ordinance on April 4, 2016. The purpose of this ordinance is to regulate the degree of disturbance of areas of steeply sloping terrain in order to limit soil loss, erosion, excessive stormwater runoff, the degradation of surface water and to maintain the natural topography and drainage patterns of land. Disturbance of steep slopes results in accelerated erosion processes, increased flooding potential, further fragmentation of forest and habitat areas, and compromised aesthetic values. The Township Council adopted this ordinance to ensure against the adverse consequences of such disturbances.
Anti Idling Resolution
At the VEC encouragement, the Verona Town Council approved a Resolution adopting a strong Anti Idling policy in 2015. The resolution essentially reinforces existing NJ State Law which prohibits idling in your car or truck beyond 3 minutes while parked. It also encourages drivers to turn off their engines immediately, especially in schools, drive through windows, gas stations, parking lots, etc. Municipally-owned vehicles are also included in the anti-idling campaign. Emissions from gasoline and diesel powered vehicles contribute significantly to air pollution, including greenhouse gases, ozone formation, fine particulates, and a multitude of potentially harmful pollutants that can trigger various respiratory ailments such as asthma. Enforcing this resolution would significantly improve public health, air quality, reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Watch Your Ash
Presence of Emerald Ash Tree Borer Confirmed in Essex County
We strongly recommend Verona residents to initiate action to protect their Ash trees. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of tree-killing Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in Montclair. As this pest spreads rapidly, it kills 99% of all ash trees. The extensive damage in trees sampled so far indicate the pest has been in Montclair for several years, and is likely widespread. Trees with no visible symptoms may already be infested; only a trained professional will know. For more information visit www.emeraldashborer.nj.gov -  
To obtain a listing of Certified Tree Experts please contact njtreeexperts@gmail.com and provide your location so a county specific listing can be provided. Thank you.

New Water Fountains
The Township of Verona Municipal Building and the Verona Community Center have great new water fountains paid for by a grant. These are Water Bottle Refilling Stations that display the quantity of disposable bottles saved from landfills. The Verona High School also installed one, thanks to the Marine Biology Club. Look for them this summer at the Verona Community Pool as well. Well done everybody!
Bronze Certification
Verona Township has been awarded bronze level certification again by Sustainable Jersey for 2016! Bronze certification means a municipality has made a commitment to sustainability and succeeded in implementing significant first steps, while silver certification means a municipality has made significant progress in a number of categories toward sustainability and is a state-wide and national leader. At Verona Environmental Commission encouragement, Verona Township joined Sustainable Jersey in 2014 and became the 400th municipality in the state to join the program. The VEC formally presented the program to the council members on November 2013 and provided information to residents at our table in the December 2013 Fair in the Square. A Green Team and Chairman Steve Neale was appointed in 2014 to lead the local sustainability efforts.

Fair in the Square
We had a great time at the Fair in the Square at the Civic Center on December 2, 2017. Kids (and adults) made over 80 pine cone bird feeders at the Verona Environmental Commission table and over 80 residents signed our pledge to end unnecessary vehicle idling in Verona. You can still sign our pledge HERE
 Thank you!

Sustainable Gifts:  
Please consider donating to the Verona Environmental Commission to help protect Verona's natural resources. Checks can be made out to the Township of Verona with "VEC Donation" in the memo line. Donations can be drop off at Town Hall, or mailed to 600 Bloomfield Avenue, Verona, NJ 07044. Matt Laracy, Verona’s CFO, deposits the funds into the VEC trust fund. The Township is not a 501-c-3. We appreciate your support!
NJDEP Compliance Alert
Should you happen to observe a vehicle emitting extremely thick exhaust smoke, or making excessive noise, it is likely that the emission controls such as the catalytic converter or diesel particulate filter (DPF) have been hollowed out or removed completely. DPF “delete kits” are very popular with pickup truck enthusiasts. This is a violation of state regulations, and is subject to significant fines. You may contact Verona Police at (973) 239-5000 or NJDEP Bureau of Mobile Sources at 609-292-7953. For more information, please read the complete compliance alert or contact stopthesoot@dep.nj.gov. NJDEP rely heavily on local partners to help spread the word about these policies. Air quality affects all Garden State residents, and we appreciate your assistance helping improve it.

Walk and Bike to School!
October 4 was Walk & Bike to School Day. Hundreds of Verona students and parents joined the celebration. Verona Public School students from Kindergarten through 12 Grade participated in the 9th Annual Poster Contest sponsored by the VEC. The theme this year was: How can we stop Climate Change in Verona? Students' artwork was displayed at all participating schools. 
The award ceremony took place at Verona Town Hall on October 23. Winners received $50 dollars and an award certificate. The VEC also presented a 3-minute videoFor more information please click HERE

You can always reduce, reuse and recycle more. Please visit our Recycling Programs webpage for guidelines and details. Verona has great recycling programs!

Successful Cleanup!
About 70 volunteers participated in the West Essex Trail Cleanup on April 2nd, 2017, removing over 6 truck loads of trash. The volunteers met at two main locations: 280 Grove Ave. in Cedar Grove and at the main trail entrance on 201 Fairview Avenue, off Sampson Drive in Verona. The cleanup effort was focused on the section from Fairview Ave. to Pompton Ave. 
The Verona Environmental Commission and the Cedar Grove Environmental Commission teamed up with Essex County Parks to organize this cleanup. We would like to thank the DPW and all the volunteers who participated removing tires, metal fencing and pipes, cinder blocks, lawn chairs, metal drums, car batteries and even school bus seats and a refrigerator! Pictures are posted HERETrail users and neighbors are encouraged to lend a hand with the ongoing cleanup by carrying a shopping bag to collect any items missed by the spring cleaning. Thank you!

2017 Annual Peckman Cleanup
The Peckman River and Woods Cleanup behind F.N.Brown school went very well on June 3rd. The group removed a large amount of invasive Japanese Knotweed and garbage, mulched the area, installed a bat house, repaired the footbridge and boardwalk, and cleared the trails of fallen trees. 
Thank you to all our volunteers and DPW! Well done! To participate in future events please contact us at VeronaEnvironmental@gmail.com